In 1910, he returned to his homeland after a 25-year absence to concentrate on its creation, accepting only outside commissions that would promote Czech cultural or philanthropic events. (In his charming 1911 poster for Czech composer Oskar Nedbal’s ballet-pantomime Princess Hyacinth, for example, his traditional style takes on a fairy-tale element.) Mucha was able to present the completed Slav Epic to the city of Prague in 1928, 10 years after the founding of an independent Czechoslovakia. Tragically, only 11 years later, the Nazis marched into the city and declared it a protectorate. As a prominent Czech patriot, Mucha was arrested and questioned by the Gestapo. In weak health and with his spirit broken, he died shortly after his release.
Mucha was interred in the Slavin monument in Prague’s Vyšehrad cemetery, the final resting place of many great Czechs. The monument bears the inscription “Though dead they still speak to us.” Mucha’s work continues to do just that. His work, largely disseminated through posters—one of the most important and egalitarian forms of visual communication of the 20th century—has largely defined a glamorous era that continues to excite the public imagination. His unique sense of design and powerfully sensuous line have ensured that even his most commercial works have transcended their original purpose to become artworks in their own right, reproduced throughout the world to this day.